This letter was published in today's Irish Times.
The topic will also be discussed tonight (Wednesday) on Vincent Browne's show on TV3.
In the midst of all the coverage of cutbacks and the forthcoming budget, one major proposal has received very little attention. This is the intention of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to wind down and close all 182 community development projects (CDPs) across the most disadvantaged communities in the State. The department intends to close CDPs deemed “unviable” immediately, and to ask those deemed “viable” to voluntarily close and be incorporated into a larger centralised structure, run by Local Development Social Inclusion Partnership companies (LDSIP). This move will dispense with CDP voluntary management committees, will accommodate only some existing fulltime staff, but will redeploy the resources and funding generated by local communities into centralised LDSIPs. It is claimed that this “amalgamation” will give rise to cost efficiencies, but what is more cost efficient than volunteers who work for nothing in managing local resource centres, programmes, staff and funding?
CDPs provide an extraordinary range of programmes including childcare, support for those with disabilities, Travellers and older people. They are run by voluntary boards composed of local people who know and understand the needs of their own communities; these boards are demonstrably cost-effective and very well managed. Moreover, every euro allocated to them by the department has been matched by funding obtained from other sources.
We believe that the agenda behind this proposal has little to do with cost savings but much to do with the dislike in certain quarters for an innovative programme which has given a direct and effective voice to local communities to decide on their own needs and priorities.
Under the proposed arrangements, voluntary boards will lose their role and be obliged to hand over the fruits of their work and fundraising to organisations at a remove from communities, where the vital local voice will no longer be heard.
The CDP programme as it stands is a shining example of self-empowerment and active, ethical citizenship and directly benefits those individuals and communities who did not enjoy the benefits of the Celtic Tiger and who are suffering disproportionately now.
We call on Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and on Minister for State John Curran to abandon this proposal and to guarantee the funding and autonomy of the CDP programme. It is needed now more than ever. – Yours, etc,
Prof KATHLEEN LYNCH, UCD;
Prof BRYAN FANNING, UCD;
Prof ANNE RYAN, NUIM;
Prof PAT O’CONNOR, UL;
Prof PEADAR KIRBY, UL;
Prof TOM LODGE, UL;
Prof ALASTAIR CHRISTIE, UCC;
Prof PATRICIA COUGHLAN, UCC;
RONNIE DORNEY, HSE South;
BARRY MURRAY, HSE South;
DENIS BARRETT, City of Cork VEC;
DENISE CHARLTON, Immigrant Council of Ireland;
NIALL CROWLEY, Independent equality expert;
Sr STANISLAUS KENNEDY, Focus Ireland;
SIOBHAN O’DONOGHUE, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland;
AILBHE SMYTH, Equality Rights Alliance;
Dr ANNE MacFARLANE, NUIG;
Dr ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, NUIM;
Dr BRÍD CONNOLLY, NUIM;
HILARY TIERNEY, NUIM;
Dr MARY GILMARTIN, NUIM;
Dr HILARY TOVEY, TCD;
Dr ELIZABETH KIELY, UCC;
Dr DENIS LINEHAN, UCC;
PIARAS Mac ÉINRÍ, UCC;
Dr CIARÁN McCULLAGH, UCC;
ROSIE MEADE, UCC;
Dr ORLA O’DONOVAN, UCC;
TOM O’CONNOR, Cork Institute of Technology;
Dr COLM O’DOHERTY, Institute of Technology Tralee;
Dr KIERAN ALLEN, UCD;
JOHN BAKER, UCD;
Dr ROLAND ERNE, UCD;
Dr ALICE FELDMAN,UCD;
Dr STEVEN LOYAL, UCD;
Dr ANDY STOREY, UCD;
Dr EOIN DEVEREUX, UL;
Dr BREDA GRAY, UL;
BRIAN KEARY, UL;
Dr ORLA McDONNELL, UL;
MARY O’DONOGHUE, UL &
Dr TINA O’TOOLE UL,
C/o School of Languages, Literature, Culture Communication, University of Limerick.